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Who Should Start for USWNT vs. China?


The U.S. Women’s National Team is set to wrap up its latest pair of friendlies on Tuesday, taking on China at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium.

As is frequently the case when the team has to play two friendlies in less than a week, Jill Ellis will likely rotate her team for this second friendly. Those rotations will likely come in the defense and midfield, where Ellis is still undecided on her starters.

Ellis also has the opportunity to give Merritt Mathias, Abby Smith, and Casey Murphy their first caps with the national team, though those opportunities will likely come as substitutes.

Here’s a closer look at who could get the start on Tuesday:

Ellis does not elect to give Alyssa Naeher a lot of time off from goalkeeping duties, but she may do so on Tuesday by starting Ashlyn Harris. The Orlando Pride goalkeeper has played only once for the national team this year, coming on as a substitute against Mexico in April.

Ellis will probably keep a majority of her defense from the last match, but change their roles. Tierna Davidson and Crystal Dunn might keep their spots at center back and left back, respectively, while the Becky Sauerbrunn at right back experiment might be over. She will likely pair up with Davidson again at center back, leaving room for Sofia Huerta to start at right back.

The midfield will possibly be the most rotated part of the lineup after the trio selected on Thursday struggled. Allie Long might continue to get minutes as a backup to Julie Ertz, while Samantha Mewis might get her first international start in 2018. Lindsey Horan is likely to keep her place with few around to compete for her spot.

Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are locked in starters as long as they’re healthy. In Mallory Pugh’s absence, Ellis might play Christen Press, who played on the right side of the attack on Thursday as a substitute.

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